Ziemer's B.C. Golf Notes: Rutledge reflects on Hall of Fame call; Svensson top-10s at Genesis Invitational; Golf Expo goes big in Abbotsford; Victoria Liu impresses at Princeton

Victoria, BC's Jim Rutledge - Image Credit Bryan Outram/BC Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

A half-century golfing odyssey has culminated with what Victoria’s Jim Rutledge calls the highlight of his incredible career.

Rutledge was named last week as one of two new inductees into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. “The list of honoured members is in itself almost overwhelming and to join that distinguished group is the highlight of my golfing career,” Rutledge told a media conference call.

Rutledge and the late writer Robert Stanley Weir will become the 84th and 85th members of the Hall of Fame when they are inducted during the week of the RBC Canadian Open in early June.

Rutledge’s career has taken him all over the world and he joked that he has lost count of how many different countries he played in. “It’s a long list and I have the yardage books to prove it,” he said.
Rutledge won the Canadian Juvenile Boys title in 1975 and added the Canadian Junior Boys championship two years later.

He turned pro, at the age of 19, in 1978 and quickly hit the road. He played on, among others, the European, Asian, Canadian and Nationwide tours before becoming at age 47 the second oldest rookie on the PGA Tour in 2007. He then went on to have success on the 50-and over PGA Champions circuit.

“My career in golf has taken me and my family all over the world, making lifelong friendships and experiencing many great golf courses,” Rutledge said. “For me that has been reward enough, regardless of the good scores and trophies accumulated along the way. I share this honour with my family and friends who have provided me such great support over the years.”

Rutledge has loved every minute of his golfing journey, but has especially fond memories of the 15 years he logged on the Asian Tour. “That was a lot of fun,” he said. “A different country every week. I was fortunate enough to take my wife and son over there once he was old enough.”

The 63-year-old Rutledge, who also represented Canada in World Cup and Dunhill Cup competitions, isn’t quite done with his competitive career. Last summer, he won his seventh PGA of Canada Seniors title and hopes to match, or maybe even better, Moe Norman’s record of eight Senior Championship wins.

“I know Moe would say, ‘go for it, son, try and pass me,’” Rutledge said. “So I’d like to play as many as humanly possible and keep trying to win it.”

BIG PAYDAY: Surrey’s Adam Svensson cashed the second biggest cheque of his PGA TOUR career at the Genesis Invitational. His tie for ninth finish earned the former B.C. Amateur champion $545,000. He completed the tournament at nine-under par, eight shots behind winner Jon Rahm. Svensson is now 10th in the FedEx Cup standings. Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor tied for 33rd at three-under par and made $104,428.

Fellow Abbotsford product Hadwin was 66th at six-over par and made $42,600. Svensson moved up 11 spots on the Official World Golf Ranking and is now 58th. Hadwin is 64th and Taylor is 71st. Svensson is playing in this week’s Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Taylor and Hadwin are both taking the week off.

BIGGER AND BETTER: A move to Abbotsford from downtown Vancouver means consumers will be getting more bang for their buck at this week’s Western Golf Expo. This year’s show, the first since 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic, is being held at the Abbotsford Tradex facility. It offers about 20,000 square feet more space than the show’s former home at the PNE Forum building provided.
“There’s lots more space for us to do stuff inside,” said Joan Probert, regional director for the B.C. and Alberta chapters of the National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada, which owns and operates six golf expos across the country.

“It is not obviously in downtown Vancouver anymore, but there’s easy access right off the highway, affordable parking and great big space for us to be able to do a 12-bay indoor driving range a huge retail section.” The show goes this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 24 and 25). Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $14 per person with youths and children under the age of 16 admitted free with a paying adult.

Probert said organizers have tried to make this year’s show more consumer-friendly. “We are trying to change the show a little bit to be a little less trade-show like and a little more consumer-celebration like. We want it to be really active and engaging for consumers when they come.” One end of the facility will be anchored by the 12-bay driving range, where eight club manufacturers will be on site to offer demos and fittings. Four bays will be dedicated to tune-ups and training sessions with PGA of BC pros.

The other end will be anchored by a retail section. “In years past we have just done one anchor retailer,” Probert said. “But this year we expanded that with one anchor retailer and then a retail section. So we have created more of a retail zone.” The middle of the facility is where exhibitors will be set up. “We’ll also have a giant lounge in the middle where people can sit and enjoy a drink,” Probert said. “There’ll be great food and beverage there. The whole show is a bit more easy flow. It’s not as compact and jammed in there as it once was.”

Anyone purchasing tickets in advance at candiangolfexpo.ca. will be entered in a draw for a GolfBC getaway to Whistler that includes rounds for two at Nicklaus North, overnight accommodation at the Crystal Lodge and transportation in a new Tesla.

WIN NO. 4: Vancouver’s Victoria Liu continues to impress with Princeton University. Liu shared medalist honours with teammate Catherine Rao and Texas Tech’s Anna Dong as she helped the Tigers finish second at the Columbia Classic in Melbourne, Fla. It was the fourth medalist finish for Liu, a sophomore at Princeton and a Lord Byng secondary graduate. Princeton teammate Tiffany Kong of Vancouver tied for 10th at the Columbia Classic.

T-BIRDS FOURTH: The University of British Columbia’s men’s golf team finished fourth at the Orange County Collegiate tourney in Coto De Caza, Calif. The host team from Cal State Fullerton won the event by 20 shots with a team total of 14-under par. UBC finished at 34-over. The Thunderbirds were led by Aidan Schumer, who tied for ninth at five-over par. The University of the Fraser Valley placed 10th overall, with Eli Greene tying for 15th place. UBC remains in Southern California this week to compete in The Joust tourney in Riverside. Simon Fraser University’s men’s team begins its spring schedule this week at the Rattler Invitational in San Antonio, Tex.

ROUTE 66: Kelowna’s Megan Osland closed with a six-under 66 to win a Cactus Tour event in Sun City, Ariz. by a single shot over Natasha Oon of San Jose, Calif. Osland finished the 54-hole event at seven-under par and recorded her second win of the season. She earned $1,800.

CHIP SHOTS: Delta’s Amanda Minni posted the fourth top-10 finish of her collegiate career at Oregon State University with a tie for eighth finish at the San Diego State Classic. . .Registration for the annual Marine Drive Amateur is now open. This year’s event, which is open to men and women, goes May 26-27. Visit marine-drive.com/mda to register.